Thursday, December 10, 2009

I've Got A Feeling

Hey everybody! I haven't written a post yet for the month of December but that doesn't mean I haven't been watching - and enjoying - the Leafs play this month. It's been tremendous. Despite losing Mitchell, Gunnarson, and Gustavsson to injury, the Leafs continue to roll and there's a lot of positives worth pointing out.I wonder if anybody's noticed my new sidebar feature? I thought it might be interesting to track the Leafs' progress towards the 95-point plateau. As you can see, their winning percentage is currently .450, and they would have to maintain a .654 winning percentage from here until the rest of the season to reach 95 points. However, in their last 10 games, they've picked up 15 out of 20 possible points and have 4 wins in their last 5 games. After an awful October start, going 1-7-4, the Leafs have since gone 9-6-3, for a .583 winning percentage.

I've noted this before, that inside the Leafs' dressing room are just 4 players who have been with the team since 2005 - Kaberle, Ponikarovsky, Stajan, and White. Another thing these 4 players have in common is that none of them has played for any other NHL team but the Toronto Maple Leafs. This dressing room is the only NHL dressing room they've ever known and the Leafs' jersey is the only NHL jersey they've ever worn. This season, all 4 players have emerged, in their own way, to become significant contributors and leaders.
Matt Stajan: Is on a 3-game point streak, and has been on the scoresheet 4 out of the last 5 games, 7 out of the last 9 games, and 11 out of last 14, scoring 6 goals, 8 assists for 14 points. That's a point-per-game pace for 14 games for Matt Stajan. For the season, he's currently on pace for 25 goals and 35 assists. Tied for second on the team in scoring with Hagman.

Alexei Ponikarovsky: I think maybe Poni reads my blog. On November 25th I mentioned that Poni wasn't "lighting up the score sheet at the same remarkable pace as he closed out last season". The next game he had 4 points. Poni didn't register a point last night against the Islanders, but he still has 9 points in his last 7 games. He leads all Leafs forwards in plus/minus at +7.
Ian White: Even more impressive then Poni's plus/minus is the astounding magnificence that is Ian White and his +11 rating. Astonishing. Scored a beauty last night against the Islanders with a well-placed shot off a nice set-up from Stajan.

Tomas Kaberle: Continues at nearly a point-per-game pace with 29 points after 30 games. Set up Beauchemin's goal in the first period against the Islanders. More importantly, the Leafs' puck possession has looked smooth and confident, at times even dominant. But wait there's more... Two players who struggled out of the gate this season are both showing postive signs and may have turned the corner.

Vesa Tokala: Statistically, he's still the worst goalie in the NHL, but after a dreadful October and posting a horrendous 5.13 GAA for the month, the Vesa bounced back in November with a 2.68 GAA.. In 4 of his last 6 starts, his SV% has been .912 or above, averaging out to .911 over those 6 starts, while Toskala has blanked opponents in 9 of his last 17 periods of play. I'm hesitant to suggest that Toskala's troubles are over because there's still a long way to go for him to save his season, but I also saw him catch a puck with his glove-hand last night, so who knows what the Vesa2010 is capable of next.

Luke Schenn: I really wanted to bring this to people's attention: Luke Schenn is now on the plus side of the ledger. He had been a +1 for 4 consecutive games, including the 7-2 loss to the Bruins, and was a +2 last night against the Islanders. His plus/minus for the season now stands at +1. In the last 7 games, OLAS is +7 overall. And then he drops a bone-crushing bomb to top it all off.

"Just keep believing, I think we're eventually going to get there."

There's still a long way to go, but the Leafs finally seem to be on the right track. They're playing an exciting style to watch and they look capable of winning more games then they lose. Will it be enough to get into the playoffs? Only 5 points back of Montreal for the final spot with a game in hand, believe it or not, they're making a run for it and there's still two weeks before Christmas.

Go Leafs Go


blurr1974 said...

December has been good so far. Hope the Leafs can crank up the pace.

A .654 SV% would be quite the feat.

Jami Brown said...

that last pic is wicked! its nice to feel hopeful. i just hope Burkie does the right thing at the deadline

general borschevsky said...

Er, yes, a .654 winning percentage would be awesome. Cheers, blurr!

Hey Jami Brown! I really liked your comment except for the word "deadline". Cheers. Drop by anytime.

Anonymous said...

Oh hell yeah, Schenn is back, definitely. He's been awesome the past while or so. And I'm loving it. (Did that sound poetic to anyone? No? Just checkin'.)

blurr1974 said...

general, I blame the hour of the comment for my gaffe.

still, a .654 SV% would be some kind of feat, no?

general borschevsky said...

Hey Kavel! It's great to see Schenn finding his game. The hit on Sim was excellent.

@blurr: That's what I figured. A .654 SV% would be an utter disaster, even by Toskala's standards.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Absolutely love that last pic...

And there seems to be something special with those four guys - Stajan, Poni, White and Kaberle. Would be dope for them to lead us to the playoffs.

general borschevsky said...

Hey eyebleaf! You got it. And about that last pic - something I didn't notice right away is Grabbo's skates - they look amazing.

More about the photos... The top pic which I also like is Primeau and Orr. The pic of Ian White is the ultimate image of mustachulence. And the picture of Stajan and Poni, which appeared on the front page of the Toronto Star sports section Tuesday morning, is the best hockey-related photo I've seen in a year. It's phenomenal.